COVINGTON, La. - Rescued from a great flood while he was just a frozen embryo in liquid nitrogen, a baby boy entered the world yesterday and was named after the most famous flood survivor of them all, Noah.
Noah Benton Markham - 8 pounds, 61/2 ounces - was born to Rebekah Markham, 32, by cesarean section after growing from an embryo that nearly defrosted in a sweltering hospital during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
"All babies are miracles," said Wanda Stogner, a cousin of Markham's. "But we have some special miracles."
Relatives gathered around the proud father, New Orleans police officer Glen Markham, 42, as he carried the tiny blanket-wrapped bundle out of the operating room at St. Tammany Parish Hospital. For a few seconds, he tried to make them guess whether the baby was a boy or a girl.
Then he announced, "It's a boy!" to cheers and applause.
Two weeks after Katrina hit in August 2005, law officers used flat-bottom boats to rescue the Markhams' embryos and about 1,400 other ones stored in tanks of coolant at New Orleans' Lakeland Hospital.
The tanks had been topped off with liquid nitrogen and moved from the first floor to the third as the storm drew near, but Katrina swamped the hospital with 8 feet of water and knocked out the electricity.
The Markhams had decided that if their baby was a girl, she would be named Hannah Mae, Hannah meaning "God has favored us." A boy would be named after the biblical builder of the Ark - an idea that came from Rebekah Markham's sister-in-law.
"That is the best name," said Ramon Pyrzak, lab director for the Fertility Institute of New Orleans, where the Markhams created embryos from their sperm and eggs after nearly a decade of inability to have a baby.
Noah's 2-year-old brother, Glen Witter "Witt" Markham Jr., whose embryo was created at the same time as Noah's but was implanted immediately in 2003, stood on his mother's hospital bed and leaned forward to give the baby a gentle kiss.